Strategies for Any Novel

©2007 Nancy Polette

1. The Cay by Theodore Taylor. Doubleday ©1969
A blind boy and a wise black man are stranded on an island and must withstand a hurricane after their ship is sunk by submarines in WWII.

A. Anticipation Guide
These are values statements related to the novel that students mark ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ before reading the novel. After reading, students examine their responses to see if they have changed their minds on any of the statements.

B. Research on U-Boats
Using Google: German U-Boats , 433,000 results
Go to:
‘German U-Boats’ and host: org 20, 606
‘German U-Boats’ and host: edu 739
‘German U-Boats’ and host: gov 157

Narrow the topic:
‘German U-Boat sinkings’ and host: gov 5

C. Write A Poetic Description
Choose One: the sea, the waves, the shore
Tell what it reminds you of.
Tell what it does that a person does.
Tell how or where.
Example: The sea is a huge bath brush scrubbing the coral clean.

D. Fun Superstitions
Timothy was convinced that Stew Cat was an evil spirit. Complete these superstitions in a new and original way.
1. Breaking a mirror means
2. If you spill salt you should
3. Walking under a ladder can lead to
4. A black cat crossing your path means.

E. A Literary Description
Use this model to show how Philip changed from the beginning to the end of the story.
You are changing, changing
You feel: Describe the atmosphere
You are: two adjectives
You: two verbs or verb phrases
You are: color, the color of (name an object of the same color
You are: give size and shape
And are: use participle or prepositional phrase
You do not: name a previous behavior as you: three verb phrases
It is: adjective to move like this
So: One adjective and one simile
You are: name

2. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Delacorte, 2000.
Bud discovers rules that make life easier. Create a fable that illustrates one of Bud’s rules.

3. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. Houghton, 1944.
When he badly injures his hand Johnny feels he can accomplish nothing in life. Read about these role models at
Choose one. Write 10 facts (clues). Ask a classmate to give a number between 1-10. Read the clue.The game continues until the person is guessed.

4. Holes by Louis Sachar.Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998.
At Camp Green Lake the boys must each dig a five foot hole a day in the hard earth. The warden claims that this builds character, but that’s a lie. Stanley must try to dig up the truth.

A. Compare Camp Greenlake and Boys Town in Compare/Contrast poem.

B. Research onions:
Follow this pattern to write an ‘Ode to An Onion’.
I am an onion
I dress in
I need
I am related to
My job is to
Within my layers are
I vacation
My greatest desire is

5. The Whispering Road by Livi Michael. Putnam 2005
A. Read the first paragraph of the first three chapters. Students predict what will happen after each.

6. True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Rank order her choices when she hears the crew talk of mutiny.
1 .tell the captain
2. do nothing
3. join the crew
4. wait for more information.

7. See:BFG by Roald Dahl
Guess the meaning of each word. Put the letter P on the line if you think it is a person; F if it is a food and A if you think it is an animal.
Then read Chapter One to support or deny your guesses.
___cannybull ___strawbunkles ___hippodumpling
___chidlers ___tottlers ___crocadowndilly
___snozcumber ___scrumplet ___frobscottle

8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.
Answer these question about robots. Guess if you do not know.
A) The first robots were in use in the Middle Ages.
B) The first robot arm to perform specific tasks was invented in 1925.
C) Robot arms can slide like a telescope or bend like an elephant’s trunk.
D) Robots replace humans today for dangerous, unpleasant or repetitive tasks.
E) Goods can be produced more cheaply because robots replace human workers on assembly lines.
F) In the future small robots can travel inside human arteries to deliver medicine.
G) In the future, surgeons will direct robots in operating on patients who may be great distances away

Support or deny your guesses by singing the Robot song.

It is 1851. An Irish mother and her two children see their home burned and their land devastated by famine. Their only choice for survival is to attempt to join the children’s father in America. At the same time, eleven- year- old Sir. Laurence Kirkle runs away from home and decides also to go to America. But how will these travelers make such a journey with no food and no money? Was escaping from home really the best idea?

Concert Reading: Introduce the novel by reading aloud pp 25-26 with appropriate background music. Four moods; happy, sad, scary, quiet. Good source of music: movie sound tracks.

INTRODUCING VOCABULARY: Form teams of three or four. Each team should have a dictionary. In ten minutes use as many of these words as you can in one sentence to describe a visual. You may add other words as needed. The team using the most words correctly is the winner.

devastated misfortune distinguished
hostile constable congenial
blighted consultation proclaim
prosperous remorse Hibernian
insurrection trepidation composure
pandemonium interrogation famine
cowering mockery scoundrel

Tell what the main character wanted. List three main events that followed.Tell the outcome.
_____________ wanted _____________but
And then_________________________________

Find interesting words , colorful language, figures os speech or special techniques the author used to tell the story. Look for sentences, phrases or words that paint pictures or create strong feelings.

Tell how the selection you are reading connects with another selection you have read. How are the characters, settings, problems, solutions similar? Also look for similarities with real events, people you know about or have seen on TV. Ask: What does this selection remind me of? Who do these characters remind me of?

Prepare a one page chart showing the connections.

Draw a picture or use a web, Venn diagram, story map or other graphic organizer to show the theme of the selection. Explain the relationship of your drawing to the theme.

Summarize the novel using each letter of the title as an acrostic.

A. Summarize the novel in A SONG or use the first letter of each word in the title to summarize as an acrostic.
B. Write a riddle report about one of the settings in the story, Killony, London, Cork or Liverpool.

Begin your report with:
Let’s go to long ago places and see the Earth’s changing faces.
(List six to eight things one would see)
But that’s not all….
(List six to eight additional sights)
Where am I?

C. Write a five senses poem describing London at night

London is the color of ______
It sounds like_____________
It smells like _____________
It tastes like ______________
It looks like ______________
It made ______ feel like ______

10. Problem Solving:
Share: Stone Fox by John Gardiner. How can Willie raise $500.00

Ideas Fast Cheap Legal Will Work Total
_________________ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
_________________ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
_________________ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
_________________ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
_________________ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
_________________ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

11. The Acrostic Book Report
Summarize Operation Clean Sweep by Doreen Beard (Farrar, 2003) using the title as an acrostic.

12. Use Magic! Magic By the Book by Nina Bernstein. Farrar, 2005

Can a book cast a spell so strong that it actually transports its readers to another place and time?
Explore magic at
A. Skills. Use sentences from the novel. Re-write the sentence keeping the same meaning but not using any word with the letter E.